Wednesday July 10th

Pair Programming in Racket, Broken Tests and Community

It’s 2 in the morning

  • I resolved to get up at 6, so I should be sleeping. However, I just got my programme to work, and then my tests broke, but I need to find a way to sleep, so I’m somewhere in between all of this, mentally.
  • I got lost in reading about type punning, because I managed to create one in GHC.
  • My head is drifting; I figured out this week that this year alone, I would have moved about 9 times; my head is mentally here but everywhere all at the same time (a paradox).
  • People keep asking me where they should mail things, and I hear myself sometimes say “I honestly don’t know”. I’m at one place, but I’m really not, but my real place is not current; I am a nomad.
  • It’s been a whirlwind. I got to Utah on Sunday, am leaving today (Wednesday) in the evening, then heading to Berkeley and then on Friday evening, heading to London.

Unexpected Community

  • Somewhere in between all of that, I was going to hang out with about two friends, and the group is now around 15. We’re all functional programmers, and there is one friend of mine who is a post-doc Mathematician. It should be fun.
  • Also, apparently this proposal group project is due in four days, as well. While I was working on my Haskell stuff, I saw an alarm about a meeting, and remembered I had a scheduled meeting at 11pm in California, which is actually 12am here. So why not?

I’m excited to see my brother

  • I haven’t seen him since 2017; the packages I’ve sent him have seen him before I have :D He is taking me to a restaurant with food from my country, and I’m excited about that. It’s a bit of stability in the midst of everything, and something familiar. I’m excited to see someone from my family. It has also sort of motivated my parents to deal with their visas so they can come to visit me, too.

My dad made a comment

  • My dad writes very thoughtful, profound emails. He studied in the UK for his Master’s, and brought back a bunch of literature, which I devoured as a teenager. He had books from the great philosophers , as well as banned books, (and I spent a good chunk of my teenage years thinking about being, identity, purpose and the invention and worth of money) even though his primary interest was in Economics and Statistics (and indeed, he was the first one to introduce me to R, my first programming language).
  • He mentioned in a recent email that he had never heard me complain about snow in Undergrad. Now that I think about it, I think that after I got over the novelty of snow, my mind was just on other things. This place I will be moving to is more North than Undergrad, but it very much reminds me of Undergrad when I was in Upstate New York. I’ve visited Upstate NY since, and it’s very gentrified and has changed a lot. I really don’t think I would have enjoyed it as much. This place, though, is still very charming, beautiful, and feels very much like a small college-town, which is what I experienced in Undergrad.

Today I struggled

  • Every year during Racket school, I struggle, but I notice that when I write code in the evening (for both years it has been Haskell), my debugging skills got better, and so did my ability to reason about code. That is part of why I have been back, along with interesting ideas in general that Racket has about abstraction.’
  • To me, Racket is about pushing around blobs of code and sometimes bending your mind about how you think about things. Haskell also bends your mind, but with structure; I can see the exoskeleton of a programme in Haskell, and I can grasp whisps of rationality (or pretend to). Racket is like watercolour and Haskell is like grey copic markers or using different weights of lead to draw on vellum.
  • This year, when we introduced ourselves, I stood up and said “I am a fraud. I am not here for Racket, because I love Haskell, but I am here for the ideas and abstractions within Racket, which I find fascinating”. Strangely, quite a few people followed with the thought of being frauds, and others also identified themselves as frauds, including a professor, who admitted that he was spending most of his current time writing Haskell, even though he would be teaching us Racket.
  • This year, I pair-programmed with someone who, at the end, told me that I should be more assertive when I pair-programme. I hadn’t thought about that before, but my self-confidence just isn’t there yet. There are many things that aren’t there yet. But I will fill in the gaps in years to come.

It isn’t about where you are now

  • Grad school to me is this place where you evolve. I don’t think I’ve met a person who really just “had it all figured out” in grad school. If that is the case, and you think there isn’t much you can improve on in yourself, I don’t think that’s the place to be. At least right now, I think of it (and my experience with my advisors so far) more as a conversation; it’s more Socratic. Through those conversations, you discover more about yourself and who you really are. If you think you’ve already gotten it all figured out, maybe it’s not the best place to be.
  • I’m interested in finding out more about myself; I know that I’m a hard worker, that I’m creative and that I have a lot of modesty about my ability. And I know what I want to be. I want to connect the dots.

And that’s it

Written on July 10, 2019